Early variations of fetal movements are the hallmark of a healthy developing central nervous system. However, there are no automatic methods to quantify the complex 3D motion of the developing fetus in-utero. The aim of this prospective study was to use machine learning (ML) on in-utero MRI to perform quantitative kinematic analysis of fetal limb movement, assessing the impact of maternal, placental, and fetal factors. In this cross-sectional, observational study, we used 76 sets of fetal (24-40 gestational weeks (GW)) blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) MRI scans of 52 women (18-45 years old) during typical pregnancies. Pregnant women were scanned for 5 to 10 minutes while breathing room air (21% O2) and for 5 to 10 minutes while breathing 100% FiO2 in supine and/or lateral position. BOLD acquisition time was 20 minutes in total with an effective temporal resolution of approximately 3 seconds. To quantify upper and lower limb kinematics, we used a 3D convolutional neural network (CNN) previously trained to track fetal key points (wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles, knees, hips) on similar BOLD time series. Tracking was visually assessed, errors manually corrected and the absolute movement time (AMT) for each joint was calculated. To identify variables that had a significant association with AMT, we constructed a mixed-model ANOVA with interaction terms. Fetuses showed significantly longer duration of limb movements during maternal hyperoxia. We also found a significant centrifugal increase of AMT across limbs and significantly longer AMT of upper extremities < 31 GW and longer AMT of lower extremities > 35 GW. In conclusion, using ML we successfully quantified complex 3D fetal limb motion in-utero and across gestation, showing maternal factors (hyperoxia) and fetal factors (gestational age, joint) impact movement. Quantification of fetal motion on MRI is a potential new biomarker of fetal health and neuromuscular development.
Measuring and understanding functional fetal brain development in utero is critical for the study of the developmental foundations of our cognitive abilities, possible early detection of disorders, and their prevention. Thalamocortical connections are an intricate component of shaping the cortical layout, but so far, only ex-vivo studies provide evidence of how axons enter the sub-plate and cortex during this highly dynamic phase. Evidence for normal in-utero development of the functional thalamocortical connectome in humans is missing. Here, we modeled fetal functional thalamocortical connectome development using in-utero functional magnetic resonance imaging in fetuses observed from 19th to 40th weeks of gestation (GW). We observed a peak increase of thalamocortical functional connectivity strength between 29th and 31st GW, right before axons establish synapses in the cortex. The cortico-cortical connectivity increases in a similar time window, and exhibits significant functional laterality in temporal-superior, -medial, and -inferior areas. Homologous regions exhibit overall similar mirrored connectivity profiles, but this similarity decreases during gestation giving way to a more diverse cortical interconnectedness. Our results complement the understanding of structural development of the human connectome and may serve as the basis for the investigation of disease and deviations from a normal developmental trajectory of connectivity development.
OBJECTIVES: We hypothesized that the use of an interactive 3D digital anatomy model can improve the quality of communication with patients about prostate disease. METHODS: A 3D digital anatomy model of the prostate was created from an MRI scan, according to McNeal's zonal anatomy classification. During urological consultation, the physician presented the digital model on a computer and used it to explain the disease and available management options. The experience of patients and physicians was recorded in questionnaires. RESULTS: The main findings were as follows: 308 patients and 47 physicians participated in the study. In the patient group, 96.8% reported an improved level of understanding of prostate disease and 90.6% reported an improved ability to ask questions during consultation. Among the physicians, 91.5% reported improved communication skills and 100% reported an improved ability to obtain patient consent for subsequent treatment. At the same time, 76.6% of physicians noted that using the computer model lengthened the consultation. CONCLUSION: This exploratory study found that the use of a 3D digital anatomy model in urology consultations was received overwhelmingly favorably by both patients and physicians, and it was perceived to improve the quality of communication between patient and physician. A randomized study is needed to confirm the preliminary findings and further quantify the improvements in the quality of patient-physician communication.
OBJECTIVES: Approximately 50% of comatose patients after cardiac arrest never regain consciousness. Cerebral ischaemia may lead to cytotoxic and/or vasogenic oedema, which can be detected by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Here, we evaluate the potential value of free water corrected mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) based on DTI, for the prediction of neurological recovery of comatose patients after cardiac arrest. METHODS: A total of 50 patients after cardiac arrest were included in this prospective cohort study in two Dutch hospitals. DTI was obtained 2-4 days after cardiac arrest. Outcome was assessed at 6 months, dichotomised as poor (cerebral performance category 3-5; n = 20) or good (n = 30) neurological outcome. We calculated the whole brain mean MD and FA and compared between patients with good and poor outcomes. In addition, we compared a preliminary prediction model based on clinical parameters with or without the addition of MD and FA. RESULTS: We found significant differences between patients with good and poor outcome of mean MD (good: 726 [702-740] × 10-6 mm2/s vs. poor: 663 [575-736] × 10-6 mm2/s; p = 0.01) and mean FA (0.30 ± 0.03 vs. 0.28 ± 0.03; p = 0.03). An exploratory prediction model combining clinical parameters, MD and FA increased the sensitivity for reliable prediction of poor outcome from 60 to 85%, compared to the model containing clinical parameters only, but confidence intervals are overlapping. CONCLUSIONS: Free water-corrected MD and FA discriminate between patients with good and poor outcomes after cardiac arrest and hold the potential to add to multimodal outcome prediction. KEY POINTS: • Whole brain mean MD and FA differ between patients with good and poor outcome after cardiac arrest. • Free water-corrected MD can better discriminate between patients with good and poor outcome than uncorrected MD. • A combination of free water-corrected MD (sensitive to grey matter abnormalities) and FA (sensitive to white matter abnormalities) holds potential to add to the prediction of outcome.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: To examine whether high white matter hyperintensity (WMH) burden is associated with greater stroke severity and worse functional outcomes in lesion pattern-specific ways.
METHODS: MR neuroimaging and NIH Stroke Scale data at index stroke and the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score at 3-6 months after stroke were obtained from the MRI-Genetics Interface Exploration study of patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS). Individual WMH volume was automatically derived from fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images. Stroke lesions were automatically segmented from diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) images, parcellated into atlas-defined brain regions and further condensed to 10 lesion patterns via machine learning-based dimensionality reduction. Stroke lesion effects on AIS severity and unfavorable outcomes (mRS score >2) were modeled within purpose-built Bayesian linear and logistic regression frameworks. Interaction effects between stroke lesions and a high vs low WMH burden were integrated via hierarchical model structures. Models were adjusted for age, age<sup>2</sup>, sex, total DWI lesion and WMH volumes, and comorbidities. Data were split into derivation and validation cohorts.
RESULTS: A total of 928 patients with AIS contributed to acute stroke severity analyses (age: 64.8 [14.5] years, 40% women) and 698 patients to long-term functional outcome analyses (age: 65.9 [14.7] years, 41% women). Stroke severity was mainly explained by lesions focused on bilateral subcortical and left hemispherically pronounced cortical regions across patients with both a high and low WMH burden. Lesions centered on left-hemispheric insular, opercular, and inferior frontal regions and lesions affecting right-hemispheric temporoparietal regions had more pronounced effects on stroke severity in case of high compared with low WMH burden. Unfavorable outcomes were predominantly explained by lesions in bilateral subcortical regions. In difference to the lesion location-specific WMH effects on stroke severity, higher WMH burden increased the odds of unfavorable outcomes independent of lesion location.
DISCUSSION: Higher WMH burden may be associated with an increased stroke severity in case of stroke lesions involving left-hemispheric insular, opercular, and inferior frontal regions (potentially linked to language functions) and right-hemispheric temporoparietal regions (potentially linked to attention). Our findings suggest that patients with specific constellations of WMH burden and lesion locations may have greater benefits from acute recanalization treatments. Future clinical studies are warranted to systematically assess this assumption and guide more tailored treatment decisions.
To explore how cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) accompanying mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) reflect white matter (WM) degradation and cognitive decline, magnetic resonance images were acquired from 62 mTBI adults (imaged ∼7 days and ∼6 months post-injury) and 203 matched healthy controls. On average, mTBI participants had a count of 2.7 ± 2.6 traumatic CMBs in WM, located 6.1 ± 4.4 mm from cortex. At ∼6-month follow-up, 97% of CMBs were associated with significant reductions (34% ± 11%, q < 0.05) in the fractional anisotropy of WM streamlines within ∼1 cm of CMB locations. Male sex and older age were significant risk factors for larger reductions (q < 0.05). For CMBs in the corpus callosum, cingulum bundle, inferior and middle longitudinal fasciculi, fractional anisotropy changes were significantly and positively associated with changes in cognitive functions mediated by these structures (q < 0.05). Our findings distinguish traumatic from non-traumatic CMBs by virtue of surrounding WM alterations and challenge the assumption that traumatic CMBs are neurocognitively silent. Thus, mTBI with CMB findings can be described as a clinical endophenotype warranting longitudinal cognitive assessment.
Maternal-placental perfusion can be temporarily compromised by Braxton Hicks (BH) uterine contractions. Although prior studies have employed T2* changes to investigate the effect of BH contractions on placental oxygen, the effect of these contractions on the fetus has not been fully characterized. We investigated the effect of BH contractions on quantitative fetal organ T2* across gestation together with the birth information. We observed a slight but significant decrease in fetal brain and liver T2* during contractions.
BACKGROUND: Radiomics extracts quantitative image features to identify biomarkers for characterizing disease. Our aim was to characterize the ability of radiomic features extracted from magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the liver and spleen to detect cirrhosis by comparing features from patients with cirrhosis to those without cirrhosis. METHODS: This retrospective study compared MR-derived radiomic features between patients with cirrhosis undergoing hepatocellular carcinoma screening and patients without cirrhosis undergoing intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm surveillance between 2015 and 2018 using the same imaging protocol. Secondary analyses stratified the cirrhosis cohort by liver disease severity using clinical compensation/decompensation and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD). RESULTS: Of 167 patients, 90 had cirrhosis with 68.9% compensated and median MELD 8. Combined liver and spleen radiomic features generated an AUC 0.94 for detecting cirrhosis, with shape and texture components contributing more than size. Discrimination of cirrhosis remained high after stratification by liver disease severity. CONCLUSIONS: MR-based liver and spleen radiomic features had high accuracy in identifying cirrhosis, after stratification by clinical compensation/decompensation and MELD. Shape and texture features performed better than size features. These findings will inform radiomic-based applications for cirrhosis diagnosis and severity.
In cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), both white matter hyperintensities (WMH) of presumed vascular origin and the normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) contain microstructural brain alterations on diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI). Contamination of DWI-derived metrics by extracellular free-water can be corrected with free-water (FW) imaging. We investigated the alterations in FW and FW-corrected fractional anisotropy (FA-t) in WMH and surrounding tissue and their association with cerebrovascular risk factors. We analysed 1,000 MRI datasets from the Hamburg City Health Study. DWI was used to generate FW and FA-t maps. WMH masks were segmented on FLAIR and T1-weighted MRI and dilated repeatedly to create 8 NAWM masks representing increasing distance from WMH. Linear models were applied to compare FW and FA-t across WMH and NAWM masks and in association with cerebrovascular risk. Median age was 64 ± 14 years. FW and FA-t were altered 8 mm and 12 mm beyond WMH, respectively. Smoking was significantly associated with FW in NAWM (p = 0.008) and FA-t in WMH (p = 0.008) and in NAWM (p = 0.003) while diabetes and hypertension were not. Further research is necessary to examine whether FW and FA-t alterations in NAWM are predictors for developing WMH.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Limited data suggest that quantitative MRI (qMRI) measures have potential to be used as trial outcome measures in sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM) and as a noninvasive assessment tool to study sIBM muscle pathologic processes. Our aim was to evaluate changes in muscle structure and composition using a comprehensive multiparameter set of qMRI measures and to assess construct validity and responsiveness of qMRI measures in people with sIBM.
METHODS: This was a prospective observational cohort study with assessments at baseline (n = 30) and 1 year (n = 26). qMRI assessments include thigh muscle volume (TMV), inter/intramuscular adipose tissue (IMAT), muscle fat fraction (FF), muscle inflammation (T2 relaxation time), IMAT from T2* relaxation (T2*-IMAT), intermuscular connective tissue from T2* relaxation (T2*-IMCT), and muscle macromolecular structure from the magnetization transfer ratio (MTR). Physical performance assessments include sIBM Physical Functioning Assessment (sIFA), 6-minute walk distance, and quantitative muscle testing of the quadriceps. Correlations were assessed using the Spearman correlation coefficient. Responsiveness was assessed using the standardized response mean (SRM).
RESULTS: After 1 year, we observed a reduction in TMV (6.8%, p < 0.001) and muscle T2 (6.7%, p = 0.035), an increase in IMAT (9.7%, p < 0.001), FF (11.2%, p = 0.030), connective tissue (22%, p = 0.995), and T2*-IMAT (24%, p < 0.001), and alteration in muscle macromolecular structure (ΔMTR = -26%, p = 0.002). A decrease in muscle T2 correlated with an increase in T2*-IMAT (r = -0.47, p = 0.008). Deposition of connective tissue and IMAT correlated with deterioration in sIFA (r = 0.38, p = 0.032; r = 0.34, p = 0.048; respectively), whereas a decrease in TMV correlated with a decrease in quantitative muscle testing (r = 0.36, p = 0.035). The most responsive qMRI measures were T2*-IMAT (SRM = 1.50), TMV (SRM = -1.23), IMAT (SRM = 1.20), MTR (SRM = -0.83), and T2 relaxation time (SRM = -0.65).
DISCUSSION: Progressive deterioration in muscle quality measured by qMRI is associated with a decline in physical performance. Inflammation may play a role in triggering fat infiltration into muscle. qMRI provides valid and responsive measures that might prove valuable in sIBM experimental trials and assessment of muscle pathologic processes.
CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE: This study provides Class I evidence that qMRI outcome measures are associated with physical performance measures in patients with sIBM.
Machine learning (ML) is revolutionizing image-based diagnostics in pathology and radiology. ML models have shown promising results in research settings, but the lack of interoperability between ML systems and enterprise medical imaging systems has been a major barrier for clinical integration and evaluation. The DICOM® standard specifies information object definitions (IODs) and services for the representation and communication of digital images and related information, including image-derived annotations and analysis results. However, the complexity of the standard represents an obstacle for its adoption in the ML community and creates a need for software libraries and tools that simplify working with datasets in DICOM format. Here we present the highdicom library, which provides a high-level application programming interface (API) for the Python programming language that abstracts low-level details of the standard and enables encoding and decoding of image-derived information in DICOM format in a few lines of Python code. The highdicom library leverages NumPy arrays for efficient data representation and ties into the extensive Python ecosystem for image processing and machine learning. Simultaneously, by simplifying creation and parsing of DICOM-compliant files, highdicom achieves interoperability with the medical imaging systems that hold the data used to train and run ML models, and ultimately communicate and store model outputs for clinical use. We demonstrate through experiments with slide microscopy and computed tomography imaging, that, by bridging these two ecosystems, highdicom enables developers and researchers to train and evaluate state-of-the-art ML models in pathology and radiology while remaining compliant with the DICOM standard and interoperable with clinical systems at all stages. To promote standardization of ML research and streamline the ML model development and deployment process, we made the library available free and open-source at https://github.com/herrmannlab/highdicom .
Training deep learning models that segment an image in one step typically requires a large collection of manually annotated images that captures the anatomical variability in a cohort. This poses challenges when anatomical variability is extreme but training data is limited, as when segmenting cardiac structures in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). In this paper, we propose an iterative segmentation model and show that it can be accurately learned from a small dataset. Implemented as a recurrent neural network, the model evolves a segmentation over multiple steps, from a single user click until reaching an automatically determined stopping point. We develop a novel loss function that evaluates the entire sequence of output segmentations, and use it to learn model parameters. Segmentations evolve predictably according to growth dynamics encapsulated by training data, which consists of images, partially completed segmentations, and the recommended next step. The user can easily refine the final segmentation by examining those that are earlier or later in the output sequence. Using a dataset of 3D cardiac MR scans from patients with a wide range of CHD types, we show that our iterative model offers better generalization to patients with the most severe heart malformations.
In this paper, we present a deep learning method, DDMReg, for accurate registration between diffusion MRI (dMRI) datasets. In dMRI registration, the goal is to spatially align brain anatomical structures while ensuring that local fiber orientations remain consistent with the underlying white matter fiber tract anatomy. DDMReg is a novel method that uses joint whole-brain and tract-specific information for dMRI registration. Based on the successful VoxelMorph framework for image registration, we propose a novel registration architecture that leverages not only whole brain information but also tract-specific fiber orientation information. DDMReg is an unsupervised method for deformable registration between pairs of dMRI datasets: it does not require nonlinearly pre-registered training data or the corresponding deformation fields as ground truth. We perform comparisons with four state-of-the-art registration methods on multiple independently acquired datasets from different populations (including teenagers, young and elderly adults) and different imaging protocols and scanners. We evaluate the registration performance by assessing the ability to align anatomically corresponding brain structures and ensure fiber spatial agreement between different subjects after registration. Experimental results show that DDMReg obtains significantly improved registration performance compared to the state-of-the-art methods. Importantly, we demonstrate successful generalization of DDMReg to dMRI data from different populations with varying ages and acquired using different acquisition protocols and different scanners.
Extracellular free water (FW) increases are suggested to better provide pathophysiological information in brain aging than conventional biomarkers such as fractional anisotropy. The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship between conventional biomarkers, FW in white matter hyperintensities (WMH), FW in normal appearing white matter (NAWM) and in white matter tracts and executive functions (EF) with a speed component in elderly persons. We examined 226 healthy elderly participants (median age 69.83 years, IQR: 56.99-74.42) who underwent brain MRI and neuropsychological examination. FW in WMH and in NAWM as well as FW corrected diffusion metrics and measures derived from conventional MRI (white matter hyperintensities, brain volume, lacunes) were used in partial correlation (adjusted for age) to assess their correlation with EF with a speed component. Random forest analysis was used to assess the relative importance of these variables as determinants. Lastly, linear regression analyses of FW in white matter tracts corrected for risk factors of cognitive and white matter deterioration, were used to examine the role of specific tracts on EF with a speed component, which were then ranked with random forest regression. Partial correlation analyses revealed that almost all imaging metrics showed a significant association with EF with a speed component (r = -0.213 - 0.266). Random forest regression highlighted FW in WMH and in NAWM as most important among all diffusion and structural MRI metrics. The fornix (R2=0.421, p = 0.018) and the corpus callosum (genu (R2 = 0.418, p = 0.021), prefrontal (R2 = 0.416, p = 0.026), premotor (R2 = 0.418, p = 0.021)) were associated with EF with a speed component in tract based regression analyses and had highest variables importance. In a normal aging population FW in WMH and NAWM is more closely related to EF with a speed component than standard DTI and brain structural measures. Higher amounts of FW in the fornix and the frontal part of the corpus callosum leads to deteriorating EF with a speed component.
White matter hyperintensities (WMH) are a typical feature of cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), which contributes to about 50% of dementias worldwide. Microstructural alterations in deep white matter (DWM) have been widely examined in CSVD. However, little is known about abnormalities in superficial white matter (SWM) and their relevance for processing speed, the main cognitive deficit in CSVD. In 141 CSVD patients, processing speed was assessed using Trail Making Test Part A. White matter abnormalities were assessed by WMH burden (volume on T2-FLAIR) and diffusion MRI measures. SWM imaging measures had a large contribution to processing speed, despite a relatively low SWM WMH burden. Across all imaging measures, SWM free water (FW) had the strongest association with processing speed, followed by SWM mean diffusivity (MD). SWM FW was the only marker to significantly increase between two subgroups with the lowest WMH burdens. When comparing two subgroups with the highest WMH burdens, the involvement of WMH in the SWM was accompanied by significant differences in processing speed and white matter microstructure. Mediation analysis revealed that SWM FW fully mediated the association between WMH volume and processing speed, while no mediation effect of MD or DWM FW was observed. Overall, results suggest that the SWM has an important contribution to processing speed, while SWM FW is a sensitive imaging marker associated with cognition in CSVD. This study extends the current understanding of CSVD-related dysfunction and suggests that the SWM, as an understudied region, can be a potential target for monitoring pathophysiological processes.
Background: The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an effective neurosurgical target to improve motor symptoms in Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients. MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) subthalamotomy is being explored as a therapeutic alternative to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the STN. The hyperdirect pathway provides a direct connection between the cortex and the STN and is likely to play a key role in the therapeutic effects of MRgFUS intervention in PD patients.
Objective: This study aims to investigate the topography and somatotopy of hyperdirect pathway projections from the primary motor cortex (M1).
Methods: We used advanced multi-fiber tractography and high-resolution diffusion MRI data acquired on five subjects of the Human Connectome Project (HCP) to reconstruct hyperdirect pathway projections from M1. Two neuroanatomy experts reviewed the anatomical accuracy of the tracts. We extracted the fascicles arising from the trunk, arm, hand, face and tongue area from the reconstructed pathways. We assessed the variability among subjects based on the fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of the fibers. We evaluated the spatial arrangement of the different fascicles using the Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of spatial overlap and the centroids of the bundles.
Results: We successfully reconstructed hyperdirect pathway projections from M1 in all five subjects. The tracts were in agreement with the expected anatomy. We identified hyperdirect pathway fascicles projecting from the trunk, arm, hand, face and tongue area in all subjects. Tract-derived measurements showed low variability among subjects, and similar distributions of FA and MD values among the fascicles projecting from different M1 areas. We found an anterolateral somatotopic arrangement of the fascicles in the corona radiata, and an average overlap of 0.63 in the internal capsule and 0.65 in the zona incerta.
Conclusion: Multi-fiber tractography combined with high-resolution diffusion MRI data enables the identification of the somatotopic organization of the hyperdirect pathway. Our preliminary results suggest that the subdivisions of the hyperdirect pathway projecting from the trunk, arm, hand, face, and tongue motor area are intermixed at the level of the zona incerta and posterior limb of the internal capsule, with a predominantly overlapping topographical organization in both regions. Subject-specific knowledge of the hyperdirect pathway somatotopy could help optimize target definition in MRgFUS intervention.
We propose a novel pairwise distance measure between image keypoint sets, for the purpose of large-scale medical image indexing. Our measure generalizes the Jaccard index to account for soft set equivalence (SSE) between keypoint elements, via an adaptive kernel framework modeling uncertainty in keypoint appearance and geometry. A new kernel is proposed to quantify the variability of keypoint geometry in location and scale. Our distance measure may be estimated between O (N 2) image pairs in [Formula: see text] operations via keypoint indexing. Experiments report the first results for the task of predicting family relationships from medical images, using 1010 T1-weighted MRI brain volumes of 434 families including monozygotic and dizygotic twins, siblings and half-siblings sharing 100%-25% of their polymorphic genes. Soft set equivalence and the keypoint geometry kernel improve upon standard hard set equivalence (HSE) and appearance kernels alone in predicting family relationships. Monozygotic twin identification is near 100%, and three subjects with uncertain genotyping are automatically paired with their self-reported families, the first reported practical application of image-based family identification. Our distance measure can also be used to predict group categories, sex is predicted with an AUC = 0.97. Software is provided for efficient fine-grained curation of large, generic image datasets.
We present a volumetric mesh-based algorithm for parameterizing the placenta to a flattened template to enable effective visualization of local anatomy and function. MRI shows potential as a research tool as it provides signals directly related to placental function. However, due to the curved and highly variable in vivo shape of the placenta, interpreting and visualizing these images is difficult. We address interpretation challenges by mapping the placenta so that it resembles the familiar ex vivo shape. We formulate the parameterization as an optimization problem for mapping the placental shape represented by a volumetric mesh to a flattened template. We employ the symmetric Dirichlet energy to control local distortion throughout the volume. Local injectivity in the mapping is enforced by a constrained line search during the gradient descent optimization. We validate our method using a research study of 111 placental shapes extracted from BOLD MRI images. Our mapping achieves sub-voxel accuracy in matching the template while maintaining low distortion throughout the volume. We demonstrate how the resulting flattening of the placenta improves visualization of anatomy and function. Our code is freely available at https://github.com/mabulnaga/placenta-flattening.
The cerebellum is ontogenetically one of the first structures to develop in the central nervous system; nevertheless, it has been only recently reconsidered for its significant neurobiological, functional, and clinical relevance in humans. Thus, it has been a relatively under-studied compared to the cerebrum. Currently, non-invasive imaging modalities can barely reach the necessary resolution to unfold its entire, convoluted surface, while only histological analyses can reveal local information at the micrometer scale. Herein, we used the BigBrain dataset to generate area and point-wise thickness measurements for all layers of the cerebellar cortex and for each lobule in particular. We found that the overall surface area of the cerebellar granular layer (including Purkinje cells) was 1,732 cm2 and the molecular layer was 1,945 cm2. The average thickness of the granular layer is 0.88 mm (± 0.83) and that of the molecular layer is 0.32 mm (± 0.08). The cerebellum (both granular and molecular layers) is thicker at the depth of the sulci and thinner at the crowns of the gyri. Globally, the granular layer is thicker in the lateral-posterior-inferior region than the medial-superior regions. The characterization of individual layers in the cerebellum achieved herein represents a stepping-stone for investigations interrelating structural and functional connectivity with cerebellar architectonics using neuroimaging, which is a matter of considerable relevance in basic and clinical neuroscience. Furthermore, these data provide templates for the construction of cerebellar topographic maps and the precise localization of structural and functional alterations in diseases affecting the cerebellum.
Matrix metalloproteinases 9 (MMP9) are enzymes involved in regulating neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. This, combined with evidence for disrupted hippocampal structure and function in schizophrenia, has prompted our current investigation into the relationship between MMP9 and hippocampal volumes in schizophrenia. 34 healthy individuals (mean age = 32.50, male = 21, female = 13) and 30 subjects with schizophrenia (mean age = 33.07, male = 19, female = 11) underwent a blood draw and T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The hippocampus was automatically segmented utilizing FreeSurfer. MMP9 plasma levels were measured with ELISA. ANCOVAs were conducted to compare MMP9 plasma levels (corrected for age and sex) and hippocampal volumes between groups (corrected for age, sex, total intracranial volume). Spearman correlations were utilized to investigate the relationship between symptoms, medication, duration of illness, number of episodes, and MMP9 plasma levels in patients. Last, we explored the correlation between MMP9 levels and hippocampal volumes in patients and healthy individuals separately. Patients displayed higher MMP9 plasma levels than healthy individuals (F(1, 60) = 21.19, p < 0.0001). MMP9 levels correlated with negative symptoms in patients (R = 0.39, p = 0.035), but not with medication, duration of illness, or the number of episodes. Further, patients had smaller left (F(1,59) = 9.12, p = 0.0040) and right (F(1,59) = 6.49, p = 0.013) hippocampal volumes. Finally, left (R = -0.39, p = 0.034) and right (R = -0.37, p = 0.046) hippocampal volumes correlated negatively with MMP9 plasma levels in patients. We observe higher MMP9 plasma levels in SCZ, associated with lower hippocampal volumes, suggesting involvement of MMP9 in the pathology of SCZ. Future studies are needed to investigate how MMP9 influences the pathology of SCZ over the lifespan, whether the observed associations are specific for schizophrenia, and if a therapeutic modulation of MMP9 promotes neuroprotective effects in SCZ.